First impression of the JAL Suite – it’s bright!

Have you ever had a flight where one minor detail of the flight is the only one that sticks with you?

Well, I just completed a 12-hour flight on JAL from Tokyo Narita to New York JFK, and while the service was great, and seat and food were good, there was one aspect of the flight that just left me confused.

I conked out pretty quickly after the initial meal service while the cabin lights were still turned up all the way, figuring they would eventually be dimmed, as they are on virtually every longhaul flight I’ve taken. Not only is it dark outside almost the whole way, but when I looked back at the business class cabin I see that it’s dark. Meanwhile, the lights are all the way up in first class.

I nicely asked the flight attendant if there would be a way to dim the cabin lights a bit, and she proceeded to turn some of the lights off… a bit. The purser then came by to apologize profusely, and explained that other passengers are trying to read (it’s worth noting six passengers were sleeping and two were watching movies).

Unless, I’m missing something, that’s the purpose of the reading lights, no? Like, when you want to read?

Anyway, it’s a minor aspect of the flight, though I find it so odd that it’s really what stuck with me about the experience. On every one of my over 100 longhaul first class flights I’ve always had them dim the cabin lights, so why they didn’t do so is beyond me.

Who knows, maybe I was the one snoring loud and they wanted to keep me up as much as possible? 😉

And on a somewhat unrelated note, the older Japanese gentleman seated across from me (who I’m 99% sure is a Japanese TV personality) decided not to wear underwear with his pajamas. I know this because when he changed into his pajamas he prominently placed his underwear on the tray table. He then proceeded to fart most of the way to New York. I’m pretty sure we only needed half a tank of gas to get to New York, cause he provided the other half…

Filed Under: Japan Airlines, Travel
  1. Deciding not to wear underwear under you PJs is your problem… But displaying it prominently! Yikes!
    Doesn’t sound like an SQ flight… 😉

  2. How odd. The weirdest, most outrageous thing I’ve ever seen on a plane was also courtesy of a Japanese passenger. Should I share this memory, or should politeness trump catharsis?

  3. @Frank: The more I read your posts the more convinced I am that you must be some unrequited love interest spurned by the host. My guess is that it was a casual brush off but that you took it very personally and found yourself unable to recover. To this day you continue to seek your indifferent target’s attention the only way you know how.

  4. I am a fast reader and I read until the point you said, the guy who didn’t wear underwear and I was like how do you know lol

  5. I read your travels but keep asking myself. What is the point? You go to all of these places, stay less that 48 hours, sometimes at airport hotels?

    What is the point?

  6. I envision Frank to be the typical embittered geriatric who spends his few remaining years camped out at the Glass Coffin in the Castro frantically attempting to hide his colostomy bag from the scornful young men who walk past his window.

  7. @Lucky: OK, here goes.

    I was on a JL flight between BKK and NRT in coach. I’m a tall guy so I was given a seat at the bulkhead with the exit door and the backward facing crew seats. I was at the window seat, the middle seat was empty, and the aisle seat had a quiet Japanese salaryman.

    At one point in the flight one of the FA’s sits down in front of us just taking a break. This guy places his blanket over his lap. Then he starts fumbling with something under the blanket. The fumbling gets faster and faster until it’s virtually impossible to miss what this guy is up to, even with the dimmed lighting.

    The flight attendant is just a couple feet away from him and he’s looking right at her as he continues to, ahem, fumble around under the blanket. I’m tired as hell and shocked at what I’m witnessing but I figure this FA is going to notice any second now and put this guy in hot water.

    But she doesn’t. She just pretends not to see anything. To the point of looking at the freaking ceiling. Another FA sits down, apparently before realizing what’s going on, and then she joins the “see no evil” fan club.

    The guy is watching and fumbling to this whole absurd charade until he, ahem, finishes. He regains his composure, puts everything back in its place, and hands his wrapped up blanket to yet another FA as she passed by.

    Truly bizarre. I was tired as you can be, truly exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep a wink for the rest of the flight after having seen that. Seriously folks, WTF is the matter with people today?

    Some of us know Japanese society can get very kinky behind the scenes, but c’mon already, this was right out in the open! I guess this guy had reason to believe that chauvinistic tendencies inherent in Japanese sensibilities would preclude punishment. Apparently he was right.

  8. @Jason
    I kinda agree. It all seems like a waste of time, ff miles and money… just to make a blog. There is so much to discover, especially in Asia.
    But to each his own… reading about first class on Asian carriers is still fun.
    Now, Lucky please have a post about how to earn miles cheaply… hehe

  9. @Dax

    Oh my good god! Couldn’t people just go home and do it in their own room with the help of some JL FA pictures? That person was just so gross and if I were the FA I would have slapped this guy and make sure he has a good time with the police. Anyways, I just can’t understand Japanese, sometimes.

  10. Lucky: Did you use AA miles? Is JL F inventory searchable on-line or do you have you call? Thnx.

  11. Hi Everyone,

    I’m really sorry for constantly posting things on Lucky’s blog that offends some of you. I was really just trying to be funny and think it came across much more harsh that I meant. Lucky, and his readers, please accept my sincere apology for being a jerk.

    The Real Assmuncher (Frank)

  12. Oddly enough I’ve also experience some odd behavior from Japanese on planes. Loud snoring, snorting, etc.
    Maybe the high altitude affects them? 😉

  13. @Ben — It’s sad that you have to moderate comments, but I am glad to see you doing it under the circumstances.

  14. @Lucky…

    Really don’t care about the fact that he didn’t wear underwear under his pajamas…but the fact that he put them on his tray table….now that would have sent me over the edge!

  15. Long time lurker first time poster.

    Just flew JAL a few times this year between HKG-NRT and NRT-LAX in a mix Y and J. Noticed this same thing. What gives with the lights! Also issues on all with extremely warm cabins to the point of making me feel ill. Brought it up and even wrote a letter was told this is to accommodate the request of Japanese passengers.

  16. It could be worse, at least he was in his pajamas.

    There’s a HON someplace who feels he is entitled to sleep in his underwear when in LH F. I was lucky he was on the other side of the plane, however, my former boss was across the aisle from him and had to witness the guy doing his pre-sleep stretches.

    I thought it was a one off thing, however, a couple months later, 2 flyertalkers/milepointers trying the LH 388 on FRA-NRT shortly after 380 service commenced had the same experience in F.

    In both of our cases, the LH FA’s acted like nothing was amiss.

  17. You’ll see this excess use of lighting a lot in Japan. I really hate it on the limo busses and trains, especially after an evening arrival into NRT. I think Japanese are afraid of the dark!

    There’s actually a rather humorous reason why Japanese airlines keep the cabins warm “for the (elderly) Japanese passengers.” Japanese believe that their natural body temperature is lower than other races’ body temperatures. It’s just one of those cultural phenomenon Japanese believe to separate themselves from other races… “We’re Japanese, and not like you outsiders.” This mentality is most prevelant in the older Japanese though. The younger Japanese don’t necessarily agree, but since its taboo to disagree with your sempai….. In fact, they’re just as dumbfounded as us!

  18. I was on a QF flight in F from SYD-SFO several years ago and the woman across the aisle from me changed into her pajamas in her seat! I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to do. She was in her 60s or 70s and was thankfully wearing a bra and panties.

  19. Always sanitize the tray table, people. And hopefully the blankets are sanitized as well…

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